Having supported over 100,000 people to volunteer abroad since 2007, we have no shortage of inspiration sources here at IVHQ and this Christmas, we’ve been celebrating the Real Santas of IVHQ - volunteers whose actions are spreading joy to communities around the world beyond just one day of the year. Here’s a collection of stories from our Real Santas to inspire you this Christmas…
Vuong and Quang Nguyen in Kenya
We’re proud to call Vuong and Quang Nguyen a pair of IVHQ Real Santas - we’ll leave it to Vuong to explain why…
“My twin brother and I traveled to a rural Kenyan orphanage, Maddison House, via IVHQ. Every morning we learned that the orphanage would have to take a donkey up a steep rocky road to fetch a barrel of water that would only last the day for cooking, drinking, washing and if we were lucky - showers. Prior to the trip we used our birthday to fundraise for helping others on this trip and with our observations, we decided to help fix and enhance Madison House’s water supply. We went to the nearest town and bought the biggest deliverable and sustainable water tank we could. Along with that we hired a group of local welders to fix and reseal the orphanage’s three existing tin tanks which were damaged. The orphanage now has a water supply that lasts more than a month and another month of reserve. Saving them the time of having to fetch water means more time for education and improvement. So I’m proud that we decided to improve a problem that chain-solved others and the connection IVHQ gave us to make a difference.”
Susan Hamblin in Nepal
Susan Hamblin traveled to Nepal with IVHQ in 2011, volunteering in a small health clinic in Banepa. Determined to change the cycle of vulnerable children in Nepal, Susan established The Nestling Trust in 2013 and has since raised £51,000 to develop a secure and loving children’s home in Sarangkot Village.
Here the children will be given the opportunity to receive healthcare and an education, as well as learn skills such as tailoring, computer technology and farming to secure jobs in the future. The Trust also helps to provide basic healthcare and health education to hundreds of families in remote Nepalese villages. We’re incredibly proud to call Susan an IVHQ volunteer and one of our Real Santas.
Susan and Aaron Gilman in Zambia
Aaron and Susan Gilman have participated on three IVHQ programs together (with another two lined up for the New Year) and (/volunteer-in-zambia)while volunteering in Zambia, the couple worked within the Linda Farm community in Livingstone.
During the 1970s, this farm was gifted to local people with disabilities, providing their families with a small plot of land to farm vegetables in order to become self-sustaining. As the homes within the community are over 50-years-old and in real need of restoration, Aaron and Susan initiated a project to repair and paint each of the 12 homes, which currently accommodate around 90 residents. Thanks to the combined effort of volunteers and Linda Farm residents, the project was completed within 3 weeks. This project was named the Francine Perry Painting Project in memory of Aaron’s younger sister who died earlier this year after a 2.5 year battle with cancer.
Breezy Maginness in South Africa
Meet Breezy Maginness, who has just completed 6 weeks volunteering in South Africa with IVHQ and has raised over $5,500 towards paving the playground at at Sunrise Educare to replace the existing sand, which is littered with glass and garbage.
Breezy’s goal is to have the entire playground paved to provide a safer playing environment for the children.
Emily Peck in Nepal
Meet another of our inspiring international volunteers, Emily Peck, who raised $1,400 to create a library for her village school placement in Nepal, which was the village’s very first library!
With the funds, Emily purchased book shelves, a table with benches, and countless books including everything from reference books to fairytales and even books for older people in the village - both in Nepali and English! She also bought white boards and trash bins for each of the classrooms, a well-stocked first-aid kit, art supplies, soccer balls, jump ropes, chess sets, school/hygiene packs for each of the students, and a lesson plan book for each of the teachers. On top of this, Emily and a crew of IVHQ volunteers painted the walls of nine classrooms, then painted murals in every room!
If you’re feeling inspired to volunteer in the New Year, browse these top volunteer abroad programs for 2019, or get in touch with us to help pick the perfect program for you!